Navy Midshipmen (3-1, 1-1) vs Tulsa Golden Hurricane (2-3, 0-1)
Start Time: 7:30 pm EST
Location: Chapman Stadium, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Line: Navy -1.0
FPI: Tulsa 58.7%
Series: Navy leads Series 5-1.
Tulsa Golden Hurricane
Tulsa comes into this match-up with Navy standing at 2-3 overall and 0-1 in the AAC. Despite being under .500, the Golden Hurricane have played some good football to open the season. The premiere example of that was last weekend’s battle with #24 ranked SMU as they went toe-to-toe with the Mustangs for 4 quarters and falling short 43-37 in OT. Tulsa’s Junior QB, Zach Smith has had a solid start to the season with a 135.4 Passer Rating. Standing at a massive 6’3/224 lbs, native Texan has accounted for 1,364 yards, 9 TDs, and 4 interceptions through the first 5 games. He’ll look to continue his strong play against the Midshipmen tonight at home.
Inconsistency has been the main contributor towards a 2-3 record. The trend so far has been L, W, L, W, L. Yet, their offense has been humming along even in the losses as they have scored 20+ in 4 of their 5 games, with only a sub-20 point performance coming against the #18 Michigan State in the season-opener. If Tulsa’s defense could become more stout, especially in the redzone, this Golden Hurricane team has a good chance of getting back on track in the AAC West.
One main advantage Tulsa has is their 3rd down conversion rate. The Golden Hurricane is ranked 11th in the nation when it comes to movie the chains when it’s 3rd down, averaging 7.4 a game. On the flip side, Navy’s defense ranks 8th in the nation at opponent’s 3rd down conversion, allowing a mere 3.8 per game. Something will have to give in this evenly-matched tilt on 3rd downs.
The Midshipmen are riding high after a thrilling walk-off win against rival Air Force last weekend 34-25 at home. QB Malcolm Perry had a great game that was capped off by a 4-yard touchdown run with 23 seconds left in the game. The Senior from Clarksville, Tennessee threw for 144 yards going 5-7 and ending with a 92.6 Passer Rating. Perry added 111 yards more on the ground with 23 rushing attempts which led to 2 TDs and the eventual game-winner.
The result of all of this? Brigades of midshipmen storming the field in a sea of white and the Falcons of Air Force having to sing their school song first, as is the service academy custom. Navy now turns their attention to a Tulsa team which they have beaten 4 times in a row since joining the American Athletic Conference.
On paper, this game seems to be relatively smooth sailing, (pun intended), for Navy as their season statistics line up much better than the Golden Hurricane. A Tulsa team that is averaging 29.6 ppg will have a tall order in dealing with the Midshipmen defense who have only allowed 19.6 pp3 so far this season. Navy also looks to shut down the home team’s run game as the Mids defense has only allowed 90.3 ypg on the ground.
Regardless of all these positives for the Naval Academy, no games in the AAC are straightforward and the SMU Mustangs can attest to that from last week. Throw the records out the window and take the statistics with a grain of salt. If Navy wants to get to 4-1, they should not underestimate a Tulsa team that has played tough all Season and instead keep their razor focus at a maximum and follow the game-plan that Coach Ken will be implementing for tonight’s game.
I expect a close game through the first half before Navy pulls away in the 3rd. Navy comes into this game ranked 4th in the country in Red Zone Scoring Percentage at 100%. That’s right, they have yet to go into the red-zone and come up empty-handed. Tulsa meanwhile ranks 66th, converting only 81.25% of the time. Coupled with the fact that Tulsa’s defense is 40th in Red Zone Scoring Percentage defense, if Navy can march down the field and get into scoring position, this will be a long night for the Golden Hurricane in Oklahoma.
Navy 42 Tulsa 24